What is Energy Auditing and Analysis?
Energy auditing and analysis is the process of characterizing the energy performance of a building –either in design or existing – with the goal of identifying relevant energy efficiency improvements for the building. These improvements are often referred to as energy efficiency measures (EEMs) and result in reducing overall energy use, reducing operating costs, and improving occupant comfort. Energy analysis for buildings in design often involves energy modeling. An energy audit for an existing building provides a building owner with a breakdown of how and where their building uses energy, and identifies potential improvements to be considered for implementation. Solarc typically defines three categories of improvements - low cost/no cost measures (LCNC), retro-commissioning (ReCx) measures, and capital measures.
- Low Cost/No Cost Measures are those that can be implemented with little time and without the need for in-depth study or design support. We sometimes refer to these measures as tune-ups, and they can include simple changes to the HVAC scheduling or room temperature setpoints. The payback on these measures is almost instantaneous.
- Retro-Commissioning Measures are slightly more complicated measures than the LCNC measures but can often be done without the need for capital funding. Implementation is generally done by a mix of internal technical staff (if available) and external service providers. Examples of ReCx measures include HVAC temperature, pressure, and air flow setpoint changes, optimization of HVAC and lighting control strategies, and repair of deficient system components (often valves and dampers in HVAC systems.) The payback on these measures generally falls between 6 months and three years.
- Capital Measures are traditional EEMs that require a capital investment (and often design) in order to implement within a building. These measures focus on replacement or upgrade of older building components and equipment. Typical EEMs include window replacement, lighting retrofits to LED technology, HVAC equipment replacement, installation of variable frequency drives (VFDs) for fan and pump control, and HVAC/lighting control system upgrades. The payback on these measures are typically longer than ReCx measures, and varies depending on the complexity of the upgrade. The energy audit often includes a detailed economic analysis of these measures to determine their Return on Investment and support decision-making for funding.
Levels of Energy Auditing
American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE) defines three levels of energy audits.
- Level 1 – Walk-through Analysis: Yields the most obvious and unquantified assessment of quick-hitter changes that will help with energy costs.
- Level 2 – Energy Survey and Engineering Analysis: Provides prioritized, quantified recommended modifications sufficient for making business decisions and budgeting for each recommended modification.
- Level 3 – Detailed Analysis of Capital-Intensive Modifications: Presents elaborate project cost and savings calculations with a high level of confidence sufficient for capital investment decisions.
Complex data collection and analysis techniques have been defined by ASHRAE as applicable for both Level 2 and 3 audit efforts. At Solarc, we often define our proposed audit approach in a more precise manner than the generic ASHRAE definitions in order to craft a more customized and meaningful audit project, as well as to respond to Owner’s cost control concerns. Ideally, this will involve an opportunity to discuss the potential audit with a building representative and to learn about the building (or perform an energy assessment walk-through) prior to undertaking a detailed energy audit.
Quite simply, we believe that we are the most experienced, capable, and knowledgeable energy auditing firm in the region.Though small, our staff has significant bandwidth to handle almost any audit project (or set of projects) and to meet timelines of those projects.
Energy Auditing Qualifications
We have performed over (900) commercial building audits and analysis projects over the past 15 years in almost all commercial and industrial building market sectors. We are qualified and approved to perform energy audits for the following entities in Oregon, California, Washington, Utah, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
- Energy Trust of Oregon (ETO) Existing and New Building Programs
- Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) SB1149
- Rocky Mountain Power
- Bonneville Power Association (BPA)
- Seattle City Light
- Puget Sound Energy